During my twenty-four years of practicing immigration law, I have found that immigration interviews are as much psychological and tactical as they are substantive. I have also realized that when my clients grasp and understand how to use certain techniques, they are usually ready to deal with any interview. These techniques will not help you answer questions if you did not prepare for your interview, nor will they enable you to fake your way through the interview. Assuming you are prepared for the interview, they will assist you to substantially control the interview and protect you from making errors that can be very difficult to correct later on. The use of each of these strategies need to be well understood and practiced with examples. If this is not done, using them may backfire.
DO NOT VOLUNTEER INFORMATION
Never volunteer any information that has not been asked. You may think that doing so will help your case but many times, volunteered information only lead to questions that would not have been asked in the first place. For example, if during a marriage petition interview, you are asked where you met your spouse, do not volunteer information about where you went after you met, what you did, who was with you and so on. You should simply state the place, and stay quite. The Officer will have no choice but to ask the follow up questions, which your silence has directed him or her to such as, who else was there?; who first talked to who? Again, even when these are asked, you should still state just what has been asked. The Officer will not tell you, but they will gradually be feeling defensive (sometimes frustrated). Of course, if some explanation is necessary, you may briefly provide one as explained below.
USE VERY BRIEF RESPONSES
This strategy is similar to the strategy above. Here you do not only respond to the specific question but you provide a brief explanation while staying within the parameters of the question asked. For example, if during an Asylum interview you are asked why you are applying for asylum. Do not delve into explaining your political affiliation, activities and persecution. You will only entangle yourself in doing so. You can simply respond with a brief statement like, “I am afraid that if I go back to my country I will be killed” or “I fear for my life because I was persecuted.” The Office will have no choice but to ask you further questions about either your fear or your persecution. You will be controlling the interview.
NEVER GUESS THE ANSWER TO ANY QUESTION
If you do not know, or are not sure of the answer to any question, especially questions dealing with dates, places and specific facts, do not guess. It will be easier to explain later why you could not remember a date than to explain why you gave a wrong date. This explanation may be necessary if a Notice of Intent to Deny or a Request for Evidence letter is sent to you after your interview
ASK FOR CLARIFICATION WHEN YOU NEED TO THINK
When you are asked a question that you need to think about the answer to, “buy time” by asking the Officer to clarify the question (no matter how simple the question was). The Officer will probably take more time in explaining or clarifying the question. That should give you enough time to prepare your answer since you knew the gist of the question in the first place.
DO NOT TRY TO EMBELISH YOUR RECORD OR RELATIONSHIP
Most of the time, your immigration records are known facts. For example, if you entered the United States as an F-1 student and have no proof that you are currently in school as an F-1 student, there is no need trying to say something else. That can only cause more problems. Another example is during a marriage petition interview if you are asked questions about your relationship, you should not try to present your marital relationship as very good if you have marital problems. A bad marriage (one where the couple are having marital problems) is not necessarily a bad faith marriage (a marriage entered into solely for immigration purposes).
It is worth emphasizing that these strategies can only be effectively used if you understand and practice them well before your interview.
Law Offices of Fogam & Associates, LLC
Telephone: 301-608-1555 or 301-252-6650
The World Building
8121 Georgia Avenue, Suite 715
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910